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Why Alcohol-Free Beer Is the Ideal Runner’s Brew

alcoholfree1Beer and runners go together like … well, beer and runners. There’s no pairing quite like it. We crack open a cold one at the trailhead parking lot after a hard run, make a beeline (beerline?) for the beer tent after crossing the finish line, and wear t-shirts that say “Will Race For Beer.” Runners love beer so much, we’ve combined the two into an actual subcategory of racing — The Beer Mile.
But what if beer was a performance-enhancing beverage? It’s possible — but there’s a catch. To get the health benefits of beer, it’s got to be the kind that doesn’t give you a buzz. Research scientists for the Department of Preventative and Rehabilitative Sports Medicine of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen at Klinikum rechts der Isar (say that five times fast!) say consumption of non-alcoholic weissbier, or wheat beer, is an ideal post-run recovery beverage.
Their study, titled “Be-MaGIC” (beer, marathons, genetics, inflammation and the cardiovascular system), compared marathon runners who imbibed in non-alcoholic beer with others who were given a beer-flavored placebo. The group of runners downing the weissbier experienced reduced inflammation and increased immunity, staving off the infamous post-marathon sinus infection so many runners experience.
The secret of alcohol-free beer lies in the blend of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols found amongst the bubbles. The alcoholic stuff, though arguably more fun to drink, inhibits absorption of vitamins, rendering its health benefits moot. Even better: drinking alcohol-free beer after a race won’t keep you from springing out of bed the next day. (Your post-marathon soreness, however, probably will).
Have you tried an alcohol-free brewski as a recovery beverage? What beer do you like best? (My favorite is Erdinger!) —Susan

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